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Do I still need a work visa to work in the U.S?

Asked by: Dawn  — 12 August, 2011

My spouse and I are Canadian citizens and we are the directors and managers of a federal corporation that provides maintenance services to pulp and paper mills across N.A. These services are offered from our facility in Canada. We have an EIN and we are payed directly from our US clients into our Canadian bank account. That part’s fine.

Here is the basis for my question.

We would like to offer our N.A. clients on-site maintenace services instead. ie. My spouse and or I would travel to the U.S. for a minimum of 8 hours to a maximum of 3 days depending upon where the mill is located and we would provide our repair services there. The actual repairs take no more than a few hours to complete.

Applying for a work VISA for a few hours or days of work including travel time and then returning to Canada seems like overkill and a lot of extra paperwork. Especially when a new VISA must be applied for every time we want to go across, which may sometimes be 2-3 times a week.

My question is…What would be the best strategy for us to take to maximize our ability to travel to and work in the U.S as non-immigrants?

Also, in an answer that Lloyd Johnson gave on Mar 06, 04:27 in reference to being asked by someone if they would be able to work in their newly formed US LLC or if they would still need a working visa Lloyd wrote;

“… Finally, to your question of working for one of your companies. You need a visa to be “employed” by one of your U.S. companies and receive a salary in the U.S., but nothing should stop you from working for your companies for free and just collecting the profits. ”

If this is a workaround between two corporations, could you please explain this to me?

Thanks in advance for all your help!

Answered by: admin  — 12 August, 2011


First of all typically we do not offer legal advise, especially immigration advise which we do not specialize in. However I will give you my thoughts on the matter:

The topic of foreigners working in the US is always a grey area (dark-grey is you ask me), so I would suggest you to consult a US immigration attorney to see if there is a visa type that would allow you some limited business activity in the US (maybe B-1). As far as creating a US LLC and working for it for free – again, it depends on the type of your activity. There is a difference between doing actual work for a client and for example building your own website.

Unfortunately (in your case at least), Canada is across the border, so being a Canadian you are still subject to immigration laws. I know Canadians have some extra ways of getting work permits because of NAFTA, but again – this is one question to ask an immigration attorney.

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